Updated: May 11, 2020
Is your local church involved in sending missionaries to the nations?
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some local churches disappeared in history, and Islam conquered many churches and destroyed them, but the Church, the true believers continue in every generation and is spreading to all nations.
“For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles (the nations -Greek = ?? ???? )— 2 if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you;3 that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief.4 By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; 6 to be specific, that the Gentiles (the nations; ta ethna, ?? ???? = ethnic people groups, non-Jewish nations, pagan peoples and cultures outside of Israel) are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, 7 of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. 8 To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles (the nations) the unfathomable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; 10 so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. Ephesians 3:1-10 (my emphasis)
Amazing! The Lord says through the apostle Paul that the preaching of the gospel to the nations will make known the manifold wisdom of God through the church
this seems to be saying that the manifold wisdom of God will be revealed to the angels and that it will rebuke the evil unseen powers in the heavenly places (Satanic powers and demons); if we see the understanding of “the rules and authorities in the heavenly places” in light of chapter 6, verses 10-18.
Then, after his prayer for the church to be strengthened by the Holy Spirit – Paul writes:
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21
“in the church”, “to all generations” means that in every generation of church history, there have been true churches and true believers, so we should not think that the church completely blinked off suddenly after the apostle John died (around 96 -100 AD), or with Constantine (312-313 AD – Edict of Milan, no more persecution of Christians, Christianity become legal, but not the state church yet; 325 AD, Council of Nicea) or with Theodosius (Emporer – 380-392 AD, made Christianity the state religion), and blinked back on with Luther and Calvin. (1517 – Luther nailing the 95 theses, or 1521 – Trial of Diet of Worms, etc.)
Rather, the best way to understand church history is that the Roman Catholic Church did not become fully apostate and a false church, until it formally condemned the doctrine of justification by faith alone at the Council of Trent in 1545-1563). So Ephesians 3:21 shows us the important of church history and its connection to missions (preaching the gospel to all the nations – verse 8) and rebuking evil powers of demons (v. 10) through the church.
So churches and believers existed in all generations until the time of Luther, Calvin and the Council of Trent, and then afterward, the true churches had started in the Lutheran (Luther, Melanchthon, Chemnitz) and Reformed (Calvin, Zwingli, Knox; later in Anglican churches in England through Cranmer, William Tyndale, Ridley, Latimer, but not Henry VIII – he was still basically Roman Catholic in his heart, but wanted to divorce and remarry at will, and defied the Pope on that issue) churches. The Puritans and Baptist movement grew out of Anglicanism a little later.
Even though the church was slowly being corrupted through the centuries of man-made traditions (see Mark 7:1-13; Matthew 15:1-9; Colossians 2:8) being added on as supplements to Scripture (doctrines about Mary, prayers to Mary, statues, relics, purgatory, indulgences, Papal doctrines and dogmas, Transubstantiation), thus distorting the gospel message, it was not totally lost until Trent, but by then other true churches had been started, so that the truth of Ephesians 3:21 still stands, that God is getting glory in all generations of history through His church. This also confirms the truth of Matthew 16:18, “the gates of hades (death) will not prevail against the church”, because the church is going on in all generations. But it is not the Roman Catholic understanding.
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